Improving Decision Speed, Accuracy and Group Cohesion through Early Information Gathering in House-Hunting Ants
Successful collective decision-making depends on groups of animals being able to make accurate choices while maintaining group cohesion. However, increasing accuracy and/or cohesion usually decreases decision speed and vice-versa. Such trade-offs are widespread in animal decision-making and result in various decision-making strategies that emphasize either speed or accuracy, depending on the context. Speed-accuracy trade-offs have been the object of many theoretical investigations, but these studies did not consider the possible effects of previous experience and/or knowledge of individuals on such trade-offs. In this study, we investigated how previous knowledge of their environment may affect emigration speed, nest choice and colony cohesion in emigrations of the house-hunting ant Temnothorax albipennis, a collective decision-making process subject to a classical speed-accuracy trade-off.
Colonies allowed to explore a high quality nest site for one week before they were forced to emigrate found that nest and accepted it faster than emigrating naïve colonies. This resulted in increased speed in single choice emigrations and higher colony cohesion in binary choice emigrations. Additionally, colonies allowed to explore both high and low quality nest sites for one week prior to emigration remained more cohesive, made more accurate decisions and emigrated faster than emigrating naïve colonies.
These results show that colonies gather and store information about available nest sites while their nest is still intact, and later retrieve and use this information when they need to emigrate. This improves colony performance. Early gathering of information for later use is therefore an effective strategy allowing T. albipennis colonies to improve simultaneously all aspects of the decision-making process – i.e. speed, accuracy and cohesion – and partly circumvent the speed-accuracy trade-off classically observed during emigrations. These findings should be taken into account in future studies on speed-accuracy trade-offs.
For the full article visit: Improving Decision Speed, Accuracy and Group Cohesion through Early Information Gathering in House-Hunting Ants
Syndicated from:PLoS ONE
Article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.